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NHS England asks LMC to step-in to defend private practice over ‘inadequate’ CQC report

NHS England had to ask for a local medical committee to support a private GP practice to handle negative media attention it received after it was placed in special measures by the CQC.

Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire LMCs agreed to help the Priory Avenue APMS surgery in Reading when it became one of the first GP practices in the country to receive an ‘inadequate’ rating.

Though the LMC did make clear to NHS England the practice operator – Specialist Health Services Ltd – was not paying an LMC levy, the area team said GPs were ‘responsible for communication about their services’.

The Priory Avenue had been hit by a wave of staff resignations and long-term sick leave that had meant one GP was catering to 8,500 patients on more than one occasion.

A spokesperson for NHS England Thames Valley told Pulse: ‘NHS England does provide support to GP practices, particularly when commissioning or contractual issues comes to light. However, GP practices are independent businesses responsible for communicating about their services and with their patients.

‘In this particular instance we felt the practice would need support and contacted the Local Medical Committee about this as it often plays a role in supporting local practices.’

Dr Jim Kennedy, medical director at BBOLMCs told Pulse: ‘We were asked to act as a kind of honest broker because, with a practice under that kind of stress, local practices around it feel an impact on their services. We we were helping to facilitate discussions between those local practices, NHS England, and the contract provider for Priory Avenue. Which have been pretty mature and professional to be honest.

‘The practice itself wasn’t paying an LMC levy, but some of the local GPs involved with the practice do pay an LMC levy in their other practices.’

David Danson, Business Manager at SHS told Pulse: ‘We are extremely grateful to NHSE and the LMC for their support in what has been a very challenging time for the surgery.’

‘Various aspects of the surgery processes were identified as needing improvement and with the help of these organisations plus the RCGP we are well on our way to enhancing the care that the patients receive at the surgery. It must be said that there were aspects of good care also identified and that no significant clinical risk to patients was identified by the CQC.’